Home News Deep in Mammoth Cave Kentucky, New Shark Species Unearthed!

Deep in Mammoth Cave Kentucky, New Shark Species Unearthed!


Mammoth Cave, KY – Two ancient shark species, previously unknown to science, have emerged from the depths of Mammoth Cave National Park. This exciting discovery comes courtesy of the ongoing Paleontological Resources Inventory (PRI), a collaboration between the National Park Service, University of Alabama Geological Sciences Department, and other experts.

“Every new find at Mammoth Cave is a testament to teamwork,” said Park Superintendent Barclay Trimble. “We’re proud to partner with these organizations to unlock the secrets hidden within our caves.”

One of the newly identified sharks, aptly named Troglocladodus trimblei, roamed the ancient seas over 325 million years ago. This “Cave Cladodus” or “Cave Branching Tooth” was roughly the size of an oceanic white tip shark, reaching an estimated 10-12 feet. The first clue to its existence came from a single tooth discovered by Superintendent Trimble himself in 2019, highlighting the crucial role of collaboration in such discoveries.

The second shark, Glikmanius careforum, pushes the known timeline of its genus back a staggering 50 million years. With a similar size to a lemon shark, its powerful bite suggests a diet of smaller sharks, bony fish, and squid-like creatures. Notably, a partial set of jaws and gills found at Mammoth Cave marks the first such fossil recovered for this genus. This remarkable find was made possible by the Cave Research Foundation (CRF), whose name adorns the new species in recognition of their continued support.

Paleontological Team climbs through Mammoth Cave

These ancient predators swam in a near-shore environment that once covered Kentucky and Alabama, before disappearing as the supercontinent Pangea formed. With over 70 ancient fish species already identified in Mammoth Cave, this latest discovery adds another fascinating chapter to the park’s prehistoric story.